“The Reliant” is that movie you watch when you thought that 1984’s “Red Dawn” wasn’t jingoistic enough and well–just didn’t preach enough about the love for guns and God, dagnabit. What we get is post-apocalyptic clap trap where a group of wholesome, blonde, upper class, white kids and their guns survive an economic collapse as they are relentlessly hunted by evil, gun toting atheists. “The Reliant” is based on a book that is perfect fodder for Kevin Sorbo and his increasing library of movies that preach about Christianity, and the danger of not being Christian.
Inexplicable economic collapse causes widespread rioting and social unrest, leaving lovesick 19-year-old Sophie (Mollee Gray) struggling to care for her siblings in a stretch of woods bordered by lawless anarchy. Now they must stick together, and look for their mother who was kidnapped by a group of scavengers led by evil Jack, all while trying to stick together, and battling with crises of faith in their God and religion.
Sorbo’s patriarch Rick struggles to get his family out of the city and in to the woods to hold out the end of the world. You’d assume someone like Rick would have a bunker of some kind, but once the evil atheists come stomping at his door with guns a-packing, Rick’s children have no choice but to flee. Surprisingly while Sorbo is front and center in all of the posters and marketing, he has a very small role here and merely kick starts the goofy often dull narrative. You would think a survival thriller that rips off “The Purge,” and “Red Dawn” so shamelessly wouldn’t be such a bad movie, but Munger and co. proves us wrong.
The film relies mainly on a young teen cast, all of whom offer terrible performances, which is not a big surprise considering the awful script and nigh endless preaching about God. In fact, they never shut up about God. This is especially true for main character Sophie, who ignores everyone’s logical anxieties about starvation and survival by citing some biblical verse, or urging them to trust in Jesus. In post-apocalyptic science fiction, Sophie is usually the character that goes nuts and starts her own cult or something, but here she’s Katniss Everdumb with her bow and arrow and a sermon at the ready.
“The Reliant” looks like it was made on about five thousand dollars, and most of that budget likely went to Eric Roberts’ cameo and Brian Bosworth, is the film’s evil atheist Jack, who is hunting Rick’s cherubic kids. He wants revenge… or something—for his kid dying in a hospital. “The Reliant” is so inadvertently funny, from the bad acting, horrific attempts at martial arts action, and clunky droning conversations about faith and God, and Jesus and mercy. One of my favorite scenes involves Sophie and aspiring atheist Jimmy arguing with him about faith and belief in God. When they walk away, he’s carved in to a tree the word “Why.” It’s a wonderful bit of accidental comedy that just kept me laughing until the very end.